This week's Advertiser letters page includes views on the future of Geilston Gardens and an alternative plan for the waterfront development.

To have your say on any local topic, just email your views to with 'Letter' in the subject line of your message.


John Black (Helensburgh Advertiser, April 26) suggests that the Friends of Geilston should take over Geilston and that the National Trust for Scotland (NTS) should restore the house to its original condition, thereafter having no part in the management of the property.

However, there are a few difficulties with this course of action.

First, we are not talking about the whole property, the NTS having indicated that it will retain the two front fields, presumably as a land bank.

Second while the NTS has suggested that it may make a financially contribution, there has been no indication that the sum involved will be sufficient to put the house in order.

Third, a community trust might consider taking over Geilston in its entirety, but only if it received the endowment, now valued at approximately £2.5 million, that was gifted by Miss Hendry with the property, thereby bringing this sorry saga back to square one.

Finally, a fully formed community trust does not fall like a ripe apple from a tree: the seed of this idea needs planting and nurturing.

So, if the NTS cannot dispose of Geilston to a ready-made community trust, what is the alternative?

The NTS could take the Friends of Geilston’s offer of considering a community trust at face value, working in partnership with this seedling organisation, to allow it to grow and gradually develop its capacity and fund-raising abilities so that it can make a real and lasting contribution to putting the future of Geilston on a secure footing.

Whether or not the NTS has the foresight and patience to wholeheartedly adopt this route remains to be seen.

Your correspondent also proposes that Geilston could be maintained by volunteers as, he suggests, will happen at Hermitage Park.

There are already 26 volunteers at Geilston, a high proportion for any NTS property, working with the garden staff who are valued not only for their horticultural skills but also for their guidance and enthusiasm.

At Hermitage Park, where volunteers play an important role, its horticultural staff are also supported by the amenity services department of Argyll and Bute Council, not least in areas such as the use of machinery, which is outwith the scope of volunteers.

Again, we see examples of people working in partnerships as the way forward, and can only hope that the NTS will share the reality, and practicality, of this vision.

Michael Thornley

Vice-chair, Friends of Geilston

John Black states in his letter of April 26 that the Friends of Geilston could look to "the example of the Friends of Hermitage Park, who have agreed to provide £112,000 in volunteer labour to maintain the Park when construction ends". This is not quite correct.

The Friends of Hermitage Park are providing £112,000 worth of volunteer hours to Hermitage Park as part of the HLF funding award.

These hours commenced on May 4, 2016, when the Heritage Lottery Fund second round work on the park started, and will finish on May 4, 2021 (the volunteering won't stop then, but the HLF counting will).

The volunteer hours are there to support the park activity plan and encourage engagement within the community, not to maintain the park when construction ends.

Hermitage Park has a full-time employed park manager, and an assistant park manager is being recruited at the moment. They are supported by the Council's amenity services wider ground works team.

Argyll and Bute Council are committed to managing and maintaining the park until 2031 as part of the HLF agreement.

The £112,000 worth of volunteer hours covers a wide and diverse range of volunteer activities, including training opportunities in the park, such as dry stone walling, and everything from our Action Days in the park to writing grant applications and organising fund-raising events.

We have contributed over £32,000 worth of volunteer hours since May 4, 2016.

The other key point to note is that volunteers need a leader who has an overall vision and plan to successfully manage a large garden or park.

Hermitage Park is fortunate to have a park manager organising the on-site volunteering activities and this leadership post is essential to achieving success.

Fiona Baker

Chair, Friends of Hermitage Park

Before too much energy is wasted attacking a stupid plan - I offer Plan B.

The money is used to build a multi-storey car park from East Clyde Street north on the ground currently occupied by Arnold Clark, James Steele and others.

The ground floor of the car park will house Waitrose and other retail outlets.

Arnold Clark will move to the space vacated by Waitrose on the outskirts of the town and be joined by Toyota.

On the south side of East Clyde Street, between the Tower Place flats and the new Civic Centre, there is adequate space for a multi-storey hotel, conference centre and leisure centre.

The two structures could be connected by a 'sky bridge'.

With no requirement for car parking on Clyde Street, the rubble could be removed from the foreshore and the marine environment restored.

John Black

6 Woodhollow House, Helensburgh

In his letter to the Helensburgh Advertiser last week Alastair Redman, Tory councillor for Kintyre and the Islands, complains about the SNP government’s running of the NHS – totally ignoring the fact that the Tory run NHS in England is in such a state that it is now facing legal challenges to its plans for the service.

Campaigners, who included the late Stephen Hawking, claim that current proposals will produce a cut-price, bargain basement NHS that uses the same business model as the USA’s limited state-funded health insurance system which provides a restricted range of healthcare for people who are too poor or too old to pay for private health insurance. In other words, privatisation of the NHS in England.

Thank goodness the Scottish NHS has an SNP government to protect it from the Tory initiatives that are decimating the NHS in England.

By any comparison you care to mention regarding the performance of the NHS in the UK, Scotland is light years ahead in every department when compared to the Tory-run English NHS and the Labour-run Welsh NHS.

What a brass neck from the Tory councillor. On his own Argyll and Bute turf, it has been reported that Scotland’s health secretary had to intervene in the mismanagement of Argyll and Bute Health and Social Care Partnership’s integrated joint board leading to a humiliating U-turn on the savage cuts they wished to impose on services for local people.

I believe that Cllr Redman is a member of that board, so I would suggest that, rather than spending his time writing to the Clydebank Post, he gets back to the day job of providing services for his constituents in Kintyre and the Islands – preferably without the need for the health secretary to hold his hand and rectify this mismanagement, as she has important work to be getting on with.

Par for the course for a Tory, he is, in his same letter, slagging off Scottish unemployment figures. But – and it is hard to make this one up – they are the exactly same as they are in England, which includes the feather-bedded South East and London!

It’s hypocritical of Cllr Redman to castigate the Scottish Government on its performance when his own Tory party at Westminster has done no better, despite being in full control of all economic levers available, while the Scottish Government has access to only 30 per cent of the levers for economic growth in Scotland.

Which brings me to his claims that our economy is falling behind the rest of the UK.

Figures show that output per head in Scotland is higher than it is in Wales, Northern Ireland, the north east of England, the north west of England, Yorkshire and The Humber, the East Midlands, West Midlands, East England and south west England. The only areas which outperform Scotland on this indicator are London and the south east, where money is no object.

When you consider the amount of public investment which the UK government pours into London and the south east, it’s hardly surprising.

On transport in London alone, the UK government spends £4,155 per person per year. Crossrail, for example, is expected to create 14,500 jobs in total for the £14.8 billion investment. The return on this investment in London and the South East is estimated at £42bn.

Scottish tax payers paid almost 10 per cent of this project. Why are we subsidising the wealthiest part of the UK?

Scotland has spent billions on projects for London alone. It is high time this rip-off stopped and, when it does, Scotland’s economy will be all the better for it.

Gil Paterson MSP,

SNP, Clydebank and Milngavie

Did your readers know that there are over 100,000 people believed to be living with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) in the UK, with around 5,000 people newly diagnosed with the condition each year? This means that 100 people are diagnosed with MS each week.

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More than 10 million people like me, live with the daily pain and fatigue of arthritis in the UK. This can make simple activities like getting dressed, household chores or even picking up cutlery difficult.

I myself have severe osteoarthritis in my hands, my back and my knees. I’m in excruciating pain on a daily basis and I feel that I’m becoming increasingly dependent on others.

This is extremely frustrating, because just last year I was working in a job I loved as a special needs teacher.

As well as having a lot of surgery over the years, I’ve lost so much in my day to day life that most people take for granted.

I can’t drive, I can’t cook, people have to cut up my meals for me and I can’t wear anything with zips or laces. They may seem like little things that I can’t do, but this has a huge impact on my life.

I am sure many people with arthritis like me, will know the all too familiar experience of googling symptoms, asking questions on social media and trawling through forums and patient websites for answers about your own or a loved one’s condition, and how to manage the symptoms.

Naturally, I found this daunting, as it’s hard to decipher what information you can trust, what information is based on scientific evidence and what is based on old wives’ tales. Indeed, if you google the phrase ‘arthritis information’ around 2,480,000 results appear.

That’s why I wanted to tell you about the charity Arthritis Research UK.

The leading experts in the field, its latest campaign ‘Ask us your question,’ calls for those living with arthritis to pose their questions for help finding trusted answers.

I’ve used their helpline several times since it launched last year to ask about pain management and medication. I would recommend it as you can trust the charity’s information is based on years of knowledge and research, as well as the experiences of thousands of people like me.

So, whatever your question is- be it about diet, exercise or pain management, check out the website, which has all the details of their helpline, as well as a wealth of online condition information on or call 0800 5200 520

Sue Patey (Arthritis Research UK),

via email